Chapter Forty-Seven – Don’t Stop Believin’
Eldrian stepped up beside the girl kneeling on the ground, and he took a long gaze over the carved stone chamber his portal door brought him into. Before him were Alumir and Barston, but they didn’t catch his attention for long. He looked down towards Deena instead.
“I know about Zayna. How you helped her,” he spoke.
Deena turned away. “Then why did you come? I did something bad, and I left everybody with no explanation. Nobody should trust me,” she whispered.
“You might have messed up, but that doesn’t matter. Friends don’t stop being friends because of a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. And if you really are just evil, I sure as hell ain’t leaving it at that without hearing it for myself.”
The witch slid her phone away and pulled herself up into a sitting position. She wiped tears from her face, and exhaled a stuttering breath before momentarily pausing. Eventually she shot a ruby glare upwards to the wizard.
“Your curiosity is going to get you killed,” she muttered.
“A lack of curiosity is going to kill my dream.”
“Like I said!” Alumir interrupted. “It doesn’t matter who you call here. We’re on a sworn duty to our father to keep you away from those doors. You’re not to set foot deeper into this lair.”
Barston nodded in agreement.
“What’s in here that you want so badly?” asked Eldrian.
“It’s about my mother,” Deena muttered. “I need to know the truth about her. If she really did hate me.”
Alumir rubbed his gloved hands together, stretched his neck, and stood ready between them and the grand doors behind him. His eyes turned briefly to his brother, but from then on, remained locked on his opponents. Hardly a hint of injury shown on his demeanour despite the earlier feud. His skin was still smooth but pale, and his hair somehow remained perfect despite its length.
“Let me guess,” he started. “Eldrian is once again going to try to be Deedee’s little white knight. You’re going to swoop in and save her, like a super hero. Don’t wound her pride anymore than she’s already suffered by her defeat. All you’re going to do is embarrass yourself. You might think yourself to be great, just because you got the jump on me last time we met, but the insanity of attacking your own voodoo doll won’t save you this time.”
Eldrian looked to her. He knelt down, and took hold of her arm in order to heave her back up to her feet. Her knees wobbled, but after a moment, she was able to once more pull into a stable stance. She took a deep breath.
“You’re insane,” Eldrian stated.
“What?” Alumir replied sharply. “What does that supposed to mean?”
“You’d have to be, to assume I’d do something as stupid as that. I’m not here to save Deena. Of course not. Deena and I are going to kick your ass together.”
Alumir nearly laughed, but he witnessed an intensity too fierce for him to ignore. He expected his sister to refuse such an offer, but instead, she was staring directly at him with an obvious intent to fight. Both of them were ready. They didn’t even need to discuss.
“Deedee. If you continue this, you’ll have gone too far. You won’t be our sister anymore,” Alumir snarled. “One more warning. Go back home, and stop all of this. Go back to your miserable friends.”
Eldrian pointed a finger towards him, and he glared. “I’m going to do to your entire body what I did to your hand.”
“That’s it!” Alumir shouted.
Like a starting pistol was fired, things escalated immediately into a chaotic wizard battle—two against two. Eldrian immediately threw his hands forward to summon forth the Staff of Lightning as his first move, but this time, his conjuring failed.
A spear of shadow nearly impaled one of the hands involved. He pulled back, but the spell sliced up the back of his hand before jabbing into the far wall at his left, and on the opposite end of the room stood Barston, having just cast said spell while he was distracted. Eldrian turned to the new foe quickly, but was unable to spot the ball of shadow hurling towards him from Alumir’s hand.
Deena dashed in front, and brought up a two-handed magic ward to catch the exploding force of the ball before it hit her friend. The leftover impact washed over them, but the danger was halted. Eldrian looked to her with a nod, and a smile.
Both Deena and her brother began a fight once more, and luckily this time, Barston was too distracted to intervene. She threw her own Shadow Ball towards him, and although he blocked it as well, he only opened the gates of battle. Deena brought claws of shadow up from the ground towards him, and he did the same in return.
Meanwhile, as the two siblings kept each other busy, Eldrian stood head-to-head with her other brother, Barston. He seemed much more quiet and reserved.
“You want to fight along side our sister?” he asked. “Prove yourself.”
“Prove myself?” Eldrian replied.
“Show me that you’re worthy of doing something as intense as protecting my dear sister.”
“No. I’m going to prove that we’re both worthy. Now, let’s do it. Wizard battle.”
A barely visible smile came to the man’s face. “So be it.”
Barston’s hands spun around asymmetrically with palms wide open. He then curled the fingers of one as he brought the other backwards in a stance almost reminiscent of a martial artist. A flash of black shone from his palm, and with a thrust, he sent forwards another black harpoon towards Eldrian. Shadow Spear!
Eldrian caught it with a conjured ward, though the impact was so focused on a single, tiny point, that it nearly broke through. Unfortunately, Barston swapped his hands around to fire another spear only seconds after the first. This one shattered his ward and cut through the skin of his upper shoulder.
The wizard was quick to begin a counter-attack. He readied his hands, but before he could go any further, he noticed Barston doing something strange. Shadows covered his body in a black shroud, and he held himself still with both arms crossed to his shoulders. Eldrian knew then that attacking would mean his immediate defeat. He needed to wait and see what his foe’s move was first.
Barston’s eyes suddenly widened. A chilling wave of force fell over Eldrian, and then he saw that dozens of black spots covered the floor beneath him. One after another, the spots shot upwards as black spears, each hoping to turned Eldrian into Swiss cheese. Impale Nightmare!
Eldrian took off into the air, but the spears followed his height. A few nearby reached as far as to stab into the ceiling, so he was definitely in trouble, and had to think quickly.
He brought his hands together, and from them he brought forth a powerful ward to absorb the impact of a single spear. It pushed him up against the stone, but he managed to hold his own against the contest of strength. It was easy until he saw the other spears descend back into the floor. There was a pause before he noticed the reason behind the retractions. The magic from each of them manifested into the one he was above, and it suddenly pushed him with an incredible power.
Barston shot his hands into the air. “Now be impaled, Eldrian, and leave our family business alone!”
“I’ll never stop meddling,” Eldrian grunted. “Not after you made Deena cry.”
“Then save her, like you claimed you could.”
“You’re nicer than your brother, but I don’t think either of you will ever understand.”
“You shouldn’t be so confident. You can’t even budge.”
“This isn’t a one-on-one.”
Alumir’s voice suddenly shouted from afar. “Brother. Look out!”
Push! Deena’s hands inches from Barston’s back exploded with force, causing him to soar forwards through the air before tumbling to the ground. The giant spear of shadow vanished, and Eldrian floated back down to his feet.
“She slipped away. I didn’t expect it,” Alumir explained.
“It’s fine,” Barston replied. “Neither did I.”
Deena slammed her palms together and aimed them forwards. Two streams of black fire swam through the air towards Alumir, each resembling a monster of some sort. They arced away from one another before rushing towards him from either side. Demon Flames!
They collided in an explosion of heat, but her brother was nowhere to be seen. When it cleared, she saw him a distance away, and she didn’t hesitate to make chase.
“I won’t make that mistake again,” Barston said.
“Neither will I,” Eldrian responded.
“Then try to stop me again. In a room this small, you can’t dodge my Impale Nightmare!”
Once more, shadowy spots began firing upwards as spears. Eldrian, however, raised a hand upwards to conjure a ball of shadow power, and with a whip of his wrist, he threw it towards his opponent.
Barston jumped straight over top, hovered for a moment, and dropped back to his feet.
“You’re going to fight me with an attack my family practically invented?” he asked.
“Magic is about creativity,” Eldrian replied.
More of the spears shot up into the ceiling. Debris fell from the points of impact to cover Eldrian’s hair and clothes in dust. The two of them stared directly into each other’s eyes. Eldrian wasn’t dodging, but at any second, he could have been impaled by one of Barston’s spikes. He also hand a hand stretched outwards as if he was going to cast, but he never did.
The Shadow Ball spell continued past when it was dodged. What Barston didn’t think about was why it didn’t explode somewhere behind him. Like a basketball, it bounced off the back wall, and with a movement of Eldrian’s wrist, it came straight back towards him.
He could see the exact second when Barston realised his mistake. It was a circumstance he thought was impossible. The chaotic power of the Shadow Ball was meant as a bomb. Controlling the chaos in such a way to cause it to bounce was something he didn’t comprehend, even after it detonated against his back.
Barston remained on the ground. He was breathing, but for some reason, he didn’t return to his feet. Eldrian decided not to think on it long, as Deena was still battling Alumir nearby. He took off to join her.
Slowly, Barston raised his head and watched the wizard go. He had done all he wished to do.
Eldrian stood nearby Deena now, with Alumir cornered near the wall—a wizard, a witch, and a warlock. All three of them were winded, but with one brother defeated, Deena and Eldrian weren’t ready to give up. They had each other’s backs.
“Wait. Barston!” Alumir called out. “Barston? Brother! How… How did you defeat my brother? This can’t be possible. You must have cheated somehow. Well, I’m not letting you through those doors. I’ll fight to my very last breath.”
“Be careful,” Deena whispered. “Alumir is much more dangerous than Barston. I’ve barely been able to distract him.”
“It’s fine. We can work together now,” Eldrian replied.
Alumir raised his hands, and as if his own shadow came to life, black magic poured out from behind him. It shaped into a series of serpents. The shadows snaked out from beneath his feet to form an abomination of heads in front of him—each of them snapping at the air with tiny fangs. Black Hydra!
Eldrian backed up along with Deena. “We need to work together now,” he added.
Stay tuned for Chapter Forty-Eight – Streetlight People!